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Movie Review: Road to Perdition

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I was asked to review this movie, I found myself rather surprised. The “Road to Perdition” is a strange film all things considered. I’d hesitate to call it a masterpiece, and yet I’d also say that it’s above average in quality.

This is a sad fact once you realize this is one of the last great roles that Paul Newman ever had. I’m torn with how to deal with this film, because if you just want a dark movie about crime, it’ll be good for that… trust me, there’s plenty of drama and violence to go around.

What it isn’t good for is trying to tell a thoughtful and compelling narrative. The film lacks restraint or remorse, hammering out tragic fates for all the characters with an intent that has no grace. It doesn’t care for grace, only hard and fast cruelty under the guise of loyalty.

If that’s something that interests you, then this neo-noir drama might be up your alley. That being said, it isn’t up my alley at all these days.

Like a vast many films of this nature, it likes to pretend to be intelligent. Even the name is absolutely pompous, like an art-house film without the art. Right off the bat, just by looking at the name religious symbology smacks us in the face.

In Christian theology perdition references a state of being in which there is no redemption. Think doom and gloom, eternal punishment and damnation here. “Road to Perdition” when correctly defined then, actually reads “Road to Eternal Damnation”.

I’ll let you decide which title correctly reflects the mood of the film.

With a name like that, I was expecting a little bit more class and a lot less convoluted nonsense. The film is a tragedy, but there-in rests the issue. I knew that going into the film. That means I had a baseline expectation, simply because of the title and the trailer.

With quotes in the movie like “None of us will see heaven”, and all of the Christian symbology, it pretends to be much more philosophical than it really is. There’s little in the way of mindful foreshadowing. The film would rather beat you over the head with its symbolism like a rock to the forehead… the movie might be aimed at adults, but there’s little in the way of emotional maturity here.

Of course, what good is heavy-handed religious symbolism without a firm disregard for it? Yes, that was a question asked in sarcasm…

These religious undertones are mixed with a healthily dose of brutality, extortion and murder. Several of the people in the film attempt to live a much more pious life. They simply fail so terribly that it’s entirely laughable in the first place.

the whole sordid situation is played under the context of a double life for Michael Sullivan, as if that somehow excuses him for his scummy ways.

Several characters are self-sacrificing in a way. The film seems to impart that for a great number of these men, the family unit is much more important than his own livelihood. On the surface, that might be true.

Yet these two themes clash in a way that offers very little virtue at all.

The film takes place during the Great Depression. Embroiled in a crime syndicate, the families are torn between hard crime and familial devotion. Three sets of fathers and sons struggle upon this precipice. 

Tom Hanks plays the enforcer Michael Sullivan, a member of the mob. Tyler Hoechlin plays his son Michael Jr., a mere 12-year-old boy. The curious child tries to discover what his father does for a living. One night, the wayward youth hides in his father’s car. Then, he watches a man be killed by mob boss John Rooney, played by Paul Newman.

This would be devastating enough for a good plot-line, but as I said, this movie knows nothing about being subtle. To avoid confusion, I’ll now be calling Michael Sullivan, the father, Sullivan… and the son Michael simply to avoid confusion…

John Rooney’s son Connor, played by Daniel Craig, is a member of the mob as well. Connor has been stealing from his father, and that’s the heart of this supposedly tragic drama. Sullivan holds John in high regard, treating him as his own father figure. This bond goes both ways. John treats Sullivan as a son… so needless to say, Sullivan takes issue with Connor in more ways than one.

A rather notable quote stands out to highlight this. Passed down from Sullivan to Michael: “Your mother knows I love Mr. Rooney. When we had nothing, he gave us a home.”

I won’t attempt to distill the rest of the plot into a few paragraphs. It would be rife with contradiction, none of it succulent or even engaging to ponder about. The movie just isn’t built for that kind of complex analysis.

The movie is directed by Sam Mendes, and it’s based upon a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner… the damn thing is heavily revised by screenwriter David Self. Take that as you will.

When I watched “Road to Perdition,” as a teenager, I liked it a lot. These days, as an adult, I find it to be absolute crap… it tries to debate complicated moral ethos with the brute force of a jackhammer. Sadly, that’s the point that really sticks out to me. Nostalgia can’t even save this movie for me under direct scrutiny.

It would be disingenuous of me to say otherwise.

This film has been compared to “The Godfather,” but you can’t compare these two works. It really grinds my gears when people even try to do that. They’re entirely separate films. While both of them deal with the pomp and circumstance about the criminal underbelly, one does so without false pretense…

I’ll let you guess which one that is.

Let me be clear here, The Godfather makes no bones about who and what the characters are… mobsters… criminals… bad guys! There is no guise of heroism.

However in “Road to Perdition“, that narrative gets muddied… all the way down to the move and the trailer itself. No, I’m not joking. The movie does want us to buy into that kind of misguided tripe from the onset. It’s even in the advertising.

All of the characters, good and bad, are neck deep in the mobster lifestyle… and none of them even try to choose a better path. It doesn’t matter that Sullivan wants better for his own son Michele, he has no valuable concept of what “better” even is.

Sure enough, Sullivan paved a road to hell, but under no circumstance could anyone say it was done with the best of intentions.

While “The Godfather” offers critical questions about loyalty and the option to choose one’s own path upon a silver platter, “Road to Perdition‘ spits on the concept. It refuses to take its own pious themes, religious undertones and family bonds seriously.

The class and integrity provided to the Corleone family in one film, is abhorrently denied to the Sullivan and Rooney families of the other film. That is why you could never hope to compare these films at all.

One is a true film about mobsters and the confines of that lifestyle. The other is a film about glorified street thugs with more firepower and gumption than common sense.

The only saving grace Road to Perdition has as a film is that if you don’t think about it, then it is an okay film to watch. If you just want to see a simple crime movie play out tragically with no forbearance at all…. well, this is the film for you. It’ll give you a decent movie night sufficiently as an entertaining criminal romp.

There’s nothing wrong with a standard popcorn flick, but this is not the popcorn flick for me. If I’m going to watch criminals take the spotlight, I expect a much better baseline respect for themes involved.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Anime Review: A Certain Magical Index

Hey all, it’s Kernook here, I typically review anime that I like. That’s not the hallmark of a good reviewer though, so I’m starting to dive into anime I’m not particularly a fan of. A Certain Magical Index fits that bill.

I find it hard to talk about this anime without wanting to pull my hair out. It just isn’t that good. I’m not alone in this assessment, either… more on that in a moment.

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While many people do love this particular anime, and others find it to be a decent one to watch, there’s a decent number of people who dislike A Certain Magical Index. I’m among that number, and the reasons I dislike the series comes down to a slapped-together feel of the entire series.

Nefarious Reviews also pans the show… and the criticism in that review is heavily warranted. IF you want another poion, check there too.

Frankly, I just don’t see the value in this series, at least not on a personal level. The anime had a good premise, but it failed to follow through. It couldn’t execute on the ideas it tried to present. It’s a weird show, honestly speaking. While I do think A Certain Magical Index will cater to some anime fans, I’m often brought to wonder just who I can honestly suggest this series for.

That’s one of the reasons I hesitated to review it for so long. Just who would watch this series, and who might enjoy it? I honestly don’t know. If you did enjoy the series, please let me know why you liked it. I’d be interested to know.

To me, the themes just fall short, as do the influences of its setting. Futuristic or magical? Science fiction or fantasy? What themes best contextualize the show? Those questions aren’t simple to answer when A Certain Magical Index can’t even decide upon them itself as a series… let alone what I think of it.

Honestly, I expected better from a series adapted from light novels written in 2004 by Kazuma Kamachi and illustrated by Kiyotaka Haimura. The anime itself is produced by J.C. Staff.

While it certainly looks like an action based science fiction, it isn’t even close. The series distinctly lacks action. It doesn’t exactly hold the hallmarks of good science fiction either. Perhaps I’m simply being much too harsh. I’d say this anime falls distinctly into the “guilty pleasure” category for a great many viewers.

It isn’t the cream of the crop, but I have seen worse…

So, maybe it’ll fill a void for you as a viewer. I suppose if you enjoyed Strike the Blood, Guilty Crown, or Charlotte, you may in fact like this series too. For the rest of us, we’re out of luck. Bypass the series. There are better options out there.

Here’s the problem… or rather the list of problems.

To begin with, this is a somewhat long anime to get into. With several seasons under its belt and spin-offs galore it feels like an absolute slog to dive into. While the animation is decent enough and the soundtrack isn’t entirely awful, this is only a standard anime at best. It just isn’t worth the time investment to justify watching the series.

The story isn’t that good, either. This is a real shame too. On the surface, the idea of science and magic clashing against each other could be very interesting. Where A Certain Magical Index drops the ball is that it doesn’t give us a bone to chew here.

The series ultimately fails to offer a compelling narrative or one that even ties together its plot elements. Nothing feels meaningful.

To do this kind of plot justice, you need characters that have a firm ethos one way or the other. You also need a main protagonist that’s interesting in the first place. That’s the next issue. The characters are bland by nature.

They’re happy to pose theories upon their abilities more often than actually using them. It feels trite considering that these characters are also annoying and juvenile. I don’t expect them to be geniuses here, I just want characters to be a little self-aware as a cast.

They’re not… they’re idiots more often than anything else.

Beyond that, the dialogue drags and honestly, so do the fights. I’m all for deep and compelling character introspection. There’s just a time and a place for that. The series can’t figure out how to handle its pacing for the life of it. That’s my biggest issue.

I wouldn’t say you should avoid this anime like the plague, but there are better series worth your time out there.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Movie Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Kern’s Warning: This movie is rated R in America for mature content; such a violence, foul language, references to non-consensual sex, and a man that ends his own life. The Shawshank Redemption is not for children and therefore this review isn’t intended to be read by them either.

While the movie is critically acclaimed, there’s no question that some of the content will not be suitable for all viewers. The same goes for this review, it will not be suitable for anyone particularly sensitive to the topics mentioned above.

While I don’t dive deep into the topics, the fact that they are present in the movie can’t be entirely ignored. Please be aware of your own personal limitations and comfort level. If any of the above is triggering for you, please avoid this review. Thank you for your time…

– Kernook.

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. Today I’ll be talking about a movie that might as well be a classic, cult or otherwise. The Shawshank Redemption has been a touchstone for years when it comes to film and media, and it deserves to be reviewed despite its age… If you skipped the warning above, please actually read it.

I don’t put warnings on reviews without a good reason to actually do so.

Before I begin, I want to say that the movie is timeless, but it’s also a tough movie to watch for some people. Themes are hard hitting and they demand a certain level of emotional maturity from the viewer.

As mentioned in the warning, there’s a decent bit of violence, both verbally and physically. The setting is a prison, after all. From this point on, you’re reading the review at your own discretion. Also from this point on, there are spoilers.

Just bear in mind, for as wonderful as the movie is, there are a few moments that could leave a somewhat foul taste in your mouth. With that out of the way, let’s dive into the movie properly.

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On the surface, The Shawshank Redemption might come off as your typical spurned-lover prison drama. I really wouldn’t blame you for believing that it is. Upon first glance, it seems to have all of the trappings of a stereotypical prison movie, complete with your cookie cutter inmates and corrupt legal system.

Swearing and verbal threats permeate the dialogue. Murder and corruption stands at the forefront vile intention. Content that both directly references or implies sexual violence and assault are not easy scenes to watch, even if they don’t show the act itself. Atop this, one man fails to escape his institutionalized ways after receiving his freedom from prison, hanging himself when he feels he has no other option.

This is a story where redemption is actually very few and far between for these characters. Yet, the above paragraph alone would have you believe the movie is sinister, and it is far from the sort.

Much like the cursive in the image below that bookend the core themes, there’s an elegance ensconced within the deeper narrative. For all of the mud and muck, there’s a shackled sort of humanity to be discovered here. It isn’t just because of the prison system.

Some of that gruesome mentality is self-imposed. The characters are a looking glass into these mindsets.

The Shawshank Redemption a drama wrapped in tragic outcomes, and a search for the silver lining. New beginnings are possible, for those willing to believe in them. Amidst the nastiness surrounding their lives, hope alone is a prevailing theme.

The movie does at least provide a happy ending that doesn’t feel forced. While there is an uplifting story here, there’s also a story of humanity, greed and emotional strife.

This isn’t a story where happiness is handed to these characters on a silver platter. An innocent man is convicted, and the system is as corrupt as they come. Redemption only comes for him when he reclaims by force.

Even then, there’s so little about crawling your way through a sewer and living under a fake identity that’s redeeming at all. To reach redemption, the main character has to do some pretty underhanded things to reach it.

The Shawshank Redemption is as much about prisons as it is the human condition. For as beautiful and thought provoking as the movie is, there’s some real grime caked on top of it. It’ll give you a taste of what goes on in the minds of these characters, but it won’t hold your hand or coddle you. You’ll have to deal with the facts as they hand them to you, for better and for much worse.

The movie came out in 1994 and some would say that it was a box-office flop at the time. That makes perfect sense to me, because this movie is best enjoyed like a fine wine that ages correctly.

It should be watched and savored slowly, pondered about with careful consideration. While it is certainly a classic, and it has many accolades afforded to it, the movie is something of an acquired taste. Will it be for you? That depends on how much you want to dip your toes into thoughtful commentary and emotional maturity.

As the credits roll and you’re left to stew in what you’ve just witnessed, that’s when you’re going to get the most out of it.

The Shawshank Redemption follows imprisoned banker Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), a man sentenced with two entire lifetimes in prison. He’ll spend almost 20 years hatching an escape plan from the Shawshank State Penitentiary. During this time, be beaten down, abused, and left to wonder if he’ll even survive the system long enough to escape.

He’ll also befriend a fellow inmate Ellis ‘Red’ Redding (played by Morgan Freeman). Ellis acts as the film’s narrator, who provides Andy with tools needed to escape the prison… he’s also the only character that receives a true and honestly earned redemption story. After countless attempts at parole, he finally receives his… but that comes at the price of 40 years he’ll never get to have back.

To me, he’s also the most compelling character in the movie. Although he’s the narrator, the movie never explains the details about why Ellis is imprisoned. For that, you’re going to need the original source material, which is actually based upon a book.

Even this movie suffers from the bog-standard “go-read-the-book” fate, but I digress. Yep, that’s right! The movie was adapted from the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Actually, that’s a really good read, and I’d suggest that you pick it up. If you like the movie, the book is your next stop… back to the movie though. A few questions come to mind as I write this review.

Why does the film stand the test of time? Why is it more popular now, than when it was released back in 1994? Well, I’d say that’s because the movie is a slow-burn. At almost two and a half hours in length, it’s not a short romp. Plenty of movies grip onto superficial emotions during intense moments, and we viewers like to buy into that.

The Shawshank Redemption refuses to give us mindless pretense… rather, the movie takes its time, slows down and allows itself to breathe.

The narrator is as calm and he is insightful. As we tour the community housed behind bars, we viewers don’t have to suspend much in the way of disbelief. The movie is raw at times; cunningly diving deeper than most films dare to go.

The passage of time is a cruel mistress, and that theme holds true as well.

Even when friendship and hope are held so closely in hand, time does not heal all wounds here. In this move, time helps to make them. This film touches upon that. Character introspection stands at the forefront of every minor detail.

The film is gritty, but it’s also poetic. A mix of hard hitting cinematography and acting leave behind a good bone to chew on. The references to the harsh realities of prison life won’t pull back on the punches to the gut, either.

I would wholeheartedly suspect the film resonates so keenly among viewers these days, because it demands a level of forbearance so few films manage to pull off. The cold and often cruel reality of a man finding redemption is in a way, a hero’s journey… although, these characters are lacking in the redeeming qualities we’d like to see within them.

This juxtaposition is what makes the movie so powerful.

It all comes down to the name, I’d say. The Shawshank Redemption is exactly that. Films about “redemption”, particularly those regarding a convict, should be met with a skeptical lens. Subverting that is going to be a struggle.

Frank Darabont wrote and directed the film, and I’m sure he understood the massive undertaking it would be to even do so. The cinematography offered to us by Roger Deakins had to be done masterfully, and honestly I’ve got to say it’s effective. The music composed by Thomas Newman adds to the experience in a way that doesn’t overshadow the film itself.

These three well-rounded elements provide an immersive atmosphere you won’t soon forget. For all of the violence and volatile themes that try to tarnish the string of hope among the characters, there are some truly heartfelt moments mixed among them.

There is an underlying core ethos and beauty in this movie that can’t be understated. For as much as you might grimace in the face of a few select moments, you’ll also be left with gentle satisfaction of a journey brought to its reasonable conclusion.

It’s a bitter journey, with a happy ending that isn’t too sickly sweet. Rather, one might call it a new beginning rather than an ending at all, and really that’s what it should be.

If you can stomach the worst of it, you’ll get a gem of a story for your trouble. Although, much like the characters, we’re not all going to come out of the movie the same way went into it. If we allow it to mean something, it’s going to leave you with a full mind.

This movie has something to say. Good or bad is left to your interpretation. What you get out of the movie boils down to one thing; what you ultimately take from it.

Mark my words, anything less, and the film would have been too far up its own ass to be considered any good at all. The Shawshank Redemption is a near perfect synergy of creative minds and amazing source material melding together… no more, no less.

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to tell you to watch it, though…

If you haven’t seen it, I can’t exactly suggest it. It’s not because I don’t want to… but because I can’t in good conscience tell you to watch this movie. There’s a few scenes that make me very decidedly uncomfortable every time I watch it. When a movie does that to me, it makes it difficult to gauge how other viewers might internalize something.

Instead I’ll say this. The Shawshank Redemption is not a redeeming movie… but it is a movie that will ask you to think about what you’re seeing. If you like a good philosophical and moral bone to chew on, you’ll have one, if you decide to watch it.

If you don’t want to stomach the discomfort of what you’ll ultimately see… well, the movie just isn’t for you and that’s fine too.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Game Review: 10-Yard Fight

Hey guys, it’s Kernook here, and it’s time to talk about a little game that’s hardly remembered these days called 10-Yard Fight. This is a retro sports title that revolves around American football. I really must say, retro sports games like this one are special due to their antiquity. Games like this one only offer a useful look at what gaming used to be.

That reflection is important, but that’s about all 10-Yard Fight has going for it. This is a basic football simulation game. You might get a little fun out of the novelty of playing such an old title, but you’ll also get plenty of little annoyances. More on that later.

When I say this game is old, I mean it is older than the NES itself, type of old. This game is absolutely geriatric by gaming standards any way you look at it. 10-Yard Fight was developed and published in Japan by Irem. It was originally for arcades in 1983, not consoles. It finally came over to the NES in 1985. Honestly, playing the game feels just as out of place as you might expect.

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The sound isn’t the greatest, the visuals aren’t either. Just looking at the field itself, the little players skittering around lack a fair bit of polish even for its time. There’s a lot of important gameplay features missing here too and these days it makes the game even more annoying to play.

The game doesn’t even have the standard playbook or the season modes you might expect from other games of its genre. You won’t get team names, or any detailed customization of the team itself, either. The difficulty settings are also bare bones at best, vague at worst.

Obviously, the game has not aged well under the hood, either. The artificial intelligence in the game (AI), can’t predict even the most basic strategies. On easier settings, you’ll be able to outmaneuver it without much effort at all. On harder ones, sometimes it feels almost random. Once you get used to the learning curve of the game itself, there’s really nothing more to do. It becomes a glorified fidget toy.

I suck at football games (and arguably all games in general), anything besides Tecmo Bowl may as well be me kissing my butt goodbye. 10-Yard Fight is lackluster in comparison, and you don’t need to be a top tier gamer to see that.

Then again, we’ve been spoiled by gaming these days, let’s not forget that. I’m sure that 10-Yard Fight was probably a wonderful game at one time, likely beloved by football fans who got to grow up with it… but therein lies the problem for me.

I was born in 1989, so clearly I missed out on those early glory days. There’s a reason why Tecmo Bowl stands out to me as one of the better retro football games. It was the game I grew up with, and the one I was introduced to in my earliest days as a gamer.

Is 10-Yard Fight objectively a good retro game? Well, the jury is out on that when we put the game under scrutiny… it’s old, and it lacks a great many features that we’d expect these days. We’ve got to cut it a little slack at least. After all, it is one of the earliest first football games out there for a console in the first place. We can’t exactly expect the sun, moon and stars here.

That being said, it’s important to look upon gaming’s history, and to me 10-Yard Fight is one of those historical landmark titles often forgotten about. So, no, it isn’t complete and total crap from a historical standpoint. We could hardly appreciate later iteration of football titles without understanding what we lacked before those things became commonplace.

If the history of games appeals to you, and you are a football fan, it may be worth it to try the game for yourself… but if you actually want a good retro football title, then almost any other game would do you better. Clearly, I’d suggest 1991’s wonderful SNES game Tecmo Bowl.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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My Hero Academia Season 2 Review

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. I recently did a review for My Hero Academia Season 1. As promised, I’ll be slowly reviewing all of the seasons in order. Today I’m moving onto talking about season 2.

As a reminder, the first season of My Hero Academia, also known as Boku no Hīrō Akademia, features the next several steps of Deku and his hero’s journey. The introduction to this series was a strong one. Season 1 introduced us to a strong cast of compelling characters, gave us amazing fights, and deeply intertwined character struggles. There wasn’t much that you could complain about.

Aside from small nitpicks or just a general dislike of the genre itself, it would be difficult to just dislike the show. So, enter in season 2, another strong entry in the series and marked improvement to the My Hero Academia universe.

I personally find that season 2 was actually much better than season 1, raising the bar higher than I thought it would back in 2017. To look at why, we should probably begin with the surface level production.

Production Quality

The image above, even though it is completely mundane showcases the worst of the baseline standard. As you can see, it’s far from an insult.

Production-wise, My Hero Academia is a masterpiece of production and planning in season 2. Studio Bones comes back stronger than ever in this iteration. Fluid animation and mindful sound design holds up even at its weakest points. There’s nothing to complain about at its absolute worst.

However, at its best you’re going to get some amazing attention to detail. The series is packed with beautifully bombastic fights, and a fair amount of atmospheric drama. All of that is skillfully wrapped in a fresh coat of hero colored paint. This is a bright and airy series, right up until it isn’t.

The animation follows these dynamic shifts as it needs to, aiding and uplifting the key moments that makes the series stand strong. My Hero Academia lends itself to a certain level of emotional maturity, characters have to work hard and be assets to their society. The imagery and sound design adequately represents these struggles perhaps better than season 1 ever could.

Like its predecessor before it, the pacing in this season is noteworthy and very well done. While it is certainly action packed, it isn’t stifling or overbearing either. Important cast members receive fulfilling character development. The moments are wonderfully conceptualized for the screen, and continue to be entertaining even during a re-watch.

Story and Progression

Overall, the villains and plot moving forward has a steady pace, giving us an actual significant improvement to discuss…. characters, motivations, ego and trauma are the driving factors in this season.

The first half focuses upon the U.A. Sports Festival, which features some of the strongest characterization we’ve seen so far. This section is one of my favorites because it is so dynamically diverse. You’d expect this to be an all hero match-up, battle of the greatest… but nope… we don’t just get that… we get a taste of school life in this quirk filled universe.

The sports festival introduces several new U.A. High students. Many of these characters either couldn’t make it into the prestigious (also in a way pretentious) “Class 1-A”. Others just have different professional pursuits that “Class 1-A” wouldn’t have met the need for.

This is a world that relies heavily upon doing what a person is most suited for. Society in the series focuses heavily upon overall utility, rather than just pure ambition. What a person dreams to become isn’t always as important as they can reasonably accomplish… but here we see the serviceable balance between those two extremes.

Ambition becomes a spark to pure gasoline as characters strive to showcase their talents. What would typically be thought of as a dystopian world works so wonderfully here because the characters intuitively understand their places within it.

Even the weakest among them understand their skills have an intrinsic value to aid in that society… even if they’re still figuring out those limitations, that is a journey they’re willing to undertake.

Todoroki’s characterization and development in this season is probably even stronger than Deku’s overall. His backstory underpins the core ethos of the show. As the son of the #2 hero, he needs to make firm and definitive choices about his place in the wider world… and that means coming to terms with his trauma. He needs to learn to live beside his struggles, and to accept himself as he is.

Truly, that is the centralized ethos in this season, self acceptance, and the acceptance of others in the face of adversity.

This particular arc gives us a deep dive into the personal struggles that our favorite heroes-in-training face down on a daily basis. The Sports Festival arc also calls back to key issues briefly touched upon in the first season, and brings new ones to light.

The rest of season 2 is filled with internships, studying, and exams. It gives us a much deeper in-universe study of how professional heroes maintain a workspace and how they function with the wider society. The world building here is astronomical, and hard to find fault with… only, I wish there had been more.

The teachers are actually skilled in the series, and so are the professional heroes. That’s an important metric, and it’s one that many series often overlook. My Hero Academia takes the time to truly show us how inept these students really are, and just how much more they need to learn. The power and skill barrier isn’t lip service, it’s stone cold fact.

Deku and his buddies aren’t ready for the struggles of the real world just yet, and season 2 drives that point home unflinchingly.

As amazing as these characters seem to us… they’re just small fish in an ocean at the end of the day… it was nice to see all of them knocked down a few pegs. Since the series gave us a chance to see their betters in action in the workspace, we know what the wider world truly expect of them now… and it isn’t a simple thing.

Themes of personal identity, gumption and pride come blazing in, front and center from all around. These moments offer a different kind of conflict. We get deep and private introspection among several of the characters. It truly is a breath of fresh air.

Characters

This is ultimately Deku’s story and it focuses upon him. That said, this season “feels” like an ensemble story encompassing the wider classroom and Deku’s peers. In a way, I’d say it feels a little like Assassination Classroom. Some of the strongest spotlight moments come from other students, and it doesn’t feel out of place in the slightest. Actually, that’s what I think makes season 2 so much more enjoyable.

That isn’t to say Deku doesn’t get plenty of his own spotlight and personal growth. He receives a fair bit, to be honest. As Deku learns to handle the taxing ramifications of his “One For All” quirk, he also begins to conceptualize himself as a hero-in-training realistically. This isn’t always easy for him. However, it is interesting for viewers to watch.

Deku maintains a chord of shyness and humility that we saw encapsulated within season 1. He continues the trend in this season. Frequently, Deku puts his own welfare on the line, for better and for worse. These attempts are often selfless on the surface, but they’re also in a way self-serving to him.

Deku knows what it means to be a hero… and maintaining those key traits are important to him. His personal conscience is so enthralling when you consider just how easily it comes to him. Yet, we as viewers know these values must come easily, or he’ll be little more than a failed byproduct of what he truly wishes to aspire to.

There’s almost a hint of the fourth wall breaking between Deku and the attentive viewer to a point. In his attempt to help his friends work through their own struggles, he also must work through a few of his own. For a shounen series, we get some stunningly emotional and memorable moments both for Deku and a few of the others.

Todoroki, Iida and Uraraka stand out this season, and they’re not the only ones. I do have to give a call out to the episode “Shoto Todoroki: Origin” as I do think that’s perhaps one of my favorite ones in this particular season. As I mentioned above, his story so fully encapsulates the themes of this season in a way even Deku doesn’t quite reach, and I firmly believe that was entirely intentional.

New cast members give us a different bone to chew on as well. You’ve got a little bit of everything in this mixed bag, and each of them are nice additions. The non-hero students in the event are great for world building and context.

Then you have Gran Torino who is batty-as-hell. This old dude is All Might’s mentor. He offers comic relief as well as backstory into All Might and the quirk known as “One for All”. I loved every moment this senile old fart was on screen. Honestly, he’s a great addition to the cast.

On top of that, Hero Killer: Stain is the kind of big baddie we want out of a high stakes, action packed series. He’s ruthless and maliciously motivated towards violent crime. As his name suggests, he’s willing to kill for his beliefs. His implications are much more interesting than what he actually pulls off, but that’s kind of the point with this guy.

Fans know what to expect here. He’s going to be a mainstay, and this is early characterization for massive plot elements later. To that point, the big baddie of season 1, Shigaraki is still around. For season 1, he provided a reasonable threat and a good early start, but now we know what a real threat is. Honestly, Stain is the villain dial cranked to eleven, and no one pulls punches on this guy.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I have only praise for the second season of My Hero Academia. My complaints reduce down to what I wanted more of, and that wasn’t because anything was lacking. It was just that good. The slower moments never drag on too long, the faster ones don’t outstay their welcome.

Less is more in this particular instance.

Season 2 maintains a strong balance between its larger cast of characters, the wider story, and its core themes. There’s a lot to unpack, and to enjoy. I spoke briefly on Todoroki, because he is such a stand-out character this season. However, Iida and Uraraka stand out to me as well.

I just wanted more, plain and simple. When season 2 was over, I felt like I wasn’t done yet. The times the show feels lesser, it doesn’t feel as though I’ve been cheated out of something great.

This is a solid continuation of the series, no question about that. In some ways, it’s much better than before. No wonder why it was so popular, My Hero Academia easily earns its acclaim as one of the best shows of 2017 because it is so incredibly dynamic.

I just can’t think of how they could have done it better, at least not without sacrificing something else. There’s just too many great moments in this season to do that.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Review: (A)sexual

It seems that ten years later, we still have a lot of growing to do…

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. First of all, I just want to say that Iridium Eye Reviews is the place you want to go for an in-depth review of this particular documentary.

My view upon this series is personally skewed. I am person who knows what it means to be occasionally sex-repulsed. I don’t identify as “ace”, but I have experienced a personal revulsion to the sexual experience before. That experience heavily shifts my opinion on this documentary, and I want to be honest about that upfront.

If you want something much more impartial, read that review instead. I only know of this documentary because of his review, so justified credit where credit is due.

The asexual community also goes by the phrase “ace community” and those terms can be interchangeable. In this post I’ll be using both. Please keep in mind asexuality is not “cookie cutter” by nature. Like all sexual and gender identities, a vast spectrum exists.

As a person on the transgender spectrum, I absolutely need to talk about (A)sexual due to a few stigmas that have been within the LGBTQ+ community for as long as I can remember.

Before I begin though, allow me to just say this; asexuality should be openly discussed. It needs to be talked about and more widely accepted. Even 10 years later, it isn’t as vastly understood by the masses as it should be. This is my attempt to help rectify that problem.

There’s a fairly simple truth about society at large. Our mass media lives by a single motto above all else; sex sells. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or as I’d rather call it GRSM community, we need to have a quick talk.

GRSM stands for Gender, Romantic, and Sexual Minorites. Some of the asexual community are most certainly included in both demographics, and to deny this fact would be downright stupid. That being said, to me the concept of representation is very important.

For example, you can be an asexual woman and engage in romance (with or without sex) with other women. That’s what a lesbian is. You can be transgender and be inherently asexual and sex repulsed by your nature.

One identity does not directly deny the other, not even in the slightest.

The asexual community requires representation too, just like the rest of us. This documentary, offers that representation at least in some small way. While I do have a few complaints about the documentary, it provides a voice and outlet for an under-represented community.

Now, in 2022 representation has gotten better for a lot of minorities. Still, there are plenty of ways this representation can be improved and expanded. Considering the relative rarity of openly and directly stated ace representation in books, films, and wider media, we do need to keep that in mind…

Sorry, but announced afterthoughts on Twitter by creative minds DON’T count as adequate representation in my personal opinion. However, documentaries like (A)sexual do.

Disclaimer: I am not asexual. I do not identify as one. I cannot speak to their life experience directly. I can only speak to my life and my view. For more information about the asexual life and personal experiences they face, you should go over to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). This is merely a discussion of the documentary and little more.

Does (A)sexual Hold Up?

Well, that really depends I suppose. This documentary is over a decade old, but there’s a lot of small details that still hold true. As I said above, asexuality exists on a pretty diverse spectrum. The documentary interviews a few people among the asexual community across America. You’ll get insights into their everyday lives and personal struggles.

In truth, asexuality isn’t a monolith. What you get out of this documentary series entirely depends on what you know about the asexual experience already. I’d say it’s a good place to start though.

When it comes to furthering the general conversation, (A)sexual is informative and compelling to a person who may not understand the lifestyle. The leading asexual activist David Jay takes center stage. Aside from him, you’ll see opinions from popular YouTube personalities and influences within the ace community.

These people talk very frankly about the struggles that go along with the identity. However, it is a little dated. The documentary doesn’t correctly express the full scope of the acronym alphabet soup that the wider world likes to toss around.

Some asexual people aren’t lesbians, gays, trans, or queer. Some of them don’t identify that way… some do though, and for those that want the inclusion, we should be welcoming them with open arms.

For a complete beginner who knows nothing of asexuality at all, this is for you. It will give you a point to start off. That’s about it, though.

Inexcusable Behavior from the LGBTQ+ Community

Before I address this particular issue, I’d like to reiterate, this documentary took place ten years ago. That being said; the direct and pointed way that discrimination and worldly assumptions are addressed in this documentary hit hard. It will challenge you. That’s a good thing, but I do take issue with one particular scene.

It bothered me… actually it pissed me off, and I’m not even ace!

There is a point in the film where David Jay and several people in the ace community are shown at a San Francisco Pride Parade event. Clearly, they went to celebrate and to join the festivities. They’re covered in asexual pride and showing themselves off. They’ve even got signs… but things take a sharp turn. The straight and GLBTQ+ community lost their minds. They took out their anger upon the ace community at the event.

This stigma has always been prevalent to some degree. That’s my reason for this review, seeing that event fired me up something fierce.

I’m not going to say that David Jay shouldn’t have expected a little backlash, particularly for the time. That being said, the reaction from the LGBTQ+ community isn’t defensible. Honestly, it was harassment, full and flat out harassment.

I repeat for those in the back: sexuality IS a spectrum. Asexuality is too. This documentary was released in 2011, we are now in the year 2022. Yet, despite the ten years of advancement and understanding, there’s still plenty of stigma regarding the ace community.

For some odd reason, many who identify in the LGBTQ+ community also don’t want the ace community involved with that little inclusive “plus” sign. This is why I felt the need to make this blog post. It allows me to make a very important point.

Some asexual people are gay, some are lesbians, and you sure as hell can be transgender too. Body dysphoria and being repulsed sex can go hand-in-hand to some degree.

Let’s be transparent, shall we?

See this bowl? Know what those colors mean? That’s the trans flag. Our brand wears it proudly, because Kresh and I of The Demented Ferrets are on the transgender spectrum. On top of that, Ruka is lesbian with a non-binary or male-leaning mindsets. Even though she identifies as “butch” or female, she’s had moments of dysphoria too, just like Kresh and I.

We also have a friend who helps us out on occasion. Although Ebby is not an official member of our group just yet, he’s a straight cis-male. He has been strong ally and friend of Ruka and I for over decade years.

My point is this, allies matter…

Sure, we’re a group that’s rough around the edges. We curse up a storm, swear a lot, and we’re imperfect by nature… but we would never use our personal identities to intentionally harm another, and no one should.

The behavior I saw from the LGBTQ+ community in (A)sexual makes me sick… but a decade later I still see this kind of behavior on occasion. As someone who has experienced a sex repulsion myself on rare occasion, I just want to remind you all that some of us in trans community can also feel a repulsion to sex when dysphoria takes hold.

Sexually reproductive organs can bring up a lot of tender, uncomfortable feelings… and we can experience sexual repulsion too. When you so openly insult the ace community, you can also inadvertently insult one of the LGBTQ+ community too. It could be anyone who simply use sex as a means to define their romantic relationships.

I say this honestly. I have had a libido die on me. I have become sex repulsed for months or years at a time. I was just in that kind of mental head space, it wasn’t in my control. It was just the way I was. I found the idea of sex to any capacity disgusting. I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to read it, I didn’t want to even *think* of it… and I have felt surrounded by the over-sexed world I couldn’t seem to get away from.

Asexuality is merely an aspect of an identity that some people have close at hand. Meanwhile, others don’t. Yet it isn’t any less meaningful or valid, nor should it be.

Final Verdict

(A)sexual does one thing very well. It tosses the proverbial stone into the ocean when it comes to sex, sexuality and the asexual identity. If you need to know the general idea of what asexuality is, this documentary will do you just fine to start off.

Though, I’ll be honest. In some ways the documentary falls flat on its face. David’s argument is that relationships without sex can be just as meaningful and important as those with sex. However, there is one scene where David says “I think sex makes people take relationships more seriously.”

That disparages his own argument. It also insults what sexuality is directly. If I may say so myself, I don’t believe the phrase “lesbian bed death” is hyperbole. Rather it’s a commonality. Sex in relationships, even straight ones, wane or die out sometimes. That doesn’t mean you take the romantic relationship any less seriously.

You can show your affection and romantic love in different ways. Romance doesn’t need to be sexual by direct nature.

If someone decides not to treat romance seriously with a significant other, that’s not a “sex” problem. If they disrespect a truly committed and romantic bond, that’s a “lack of respect” problem. That is an entirely separate conversation.

While sex may be a factor, that’s just one of many.

People take a relationship seriously because that’s what people do. Sex or not… sorry, that’s just the truth. That goes for friends, families and lovers. Romantic relationships are defined by the people involved, not sex.

Unless sex alone is what defines the relationship at hand, then sex is not what defines the seriousness of the relationship.

It all comes down to the people in that relationship… and that’s really what I want to end this blog post upon. Our personal identities matter, invalidating those identities that can and does hurt others.

That’s the one takeaway from this entire documentary that we should be drilling into our heads. In moments like this one, I look to RWBY. It is one of my favorite series. I leave you with this:

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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My Hero Academia Season 1 Review

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Today I’m going to begin my review journey through the My Hero Academia series. Some of you may know this title as Boku no Hīrō Akademia.

I’ll be starting at season 1. Over time, I’ll slowly move my way through all of them. Super hero anime quite like this one are particularly hard to find. It’s worth the effort to re-watch the series and gather my thoughts accordingly.

When it first released I was dubious. I wondered if the series would be another sub-par shounen romp. Thankfully, it really isn’t. Like most anime fans out there, I’m always searching for new anime to watch. While I certainly prefer older anime from the early 2000’s and the 1990’s, I jumped on the bandwagon for My Hero Academia fairly quickly.

I must say, I enjoyed season 1 for all that it had to offer. This 13 episode masterpiece won’t leave you hanging for more. There are plenty of seasons to pick up after you finish this one.

I don’t think I have to tell you that this series is worth the watch for any fan of the hero’s journey, which Deku, our main protagonist displays in spades. Really, I think that’s the most compelling part of this anime; Deku himself and the wider world he faces down.

We can thank  Studio Bones for its high value production quality and intelligent fights. That certainly helps a lot too.

The Basic Story

The world is dominated by two main types of people. Those with powers named “Quirks” and those who don’t have that power. The series is fairly utilitarian. It boasts the concept that a person should do what they most excel at to benefit the wider community. It isn’t a dystopian world though, far from it.

Our main protagonist is a run-of-the-mill guy named Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed fairly early on as Deku. That’s what I’ll be calling him from here on out, by the way, Deku…

This middle school kid has a dream to become a hero. There’s just one problem, Deku doesn’t have a Quirk of his own. Within the series, this excuse happens to be handled this pretty believably too. We get a solid medical explanation in a flashback scene.

During a doctor’s appointment Deku is told he’s absolutely unable to develop a Quirk. The doctor, almost cruelly tells him that he could never become a hero. Those around Deku tell him this continually, believing he should find a new goal in life.

This headstrong boy refuses to believe he can’t become a hero. He absolutely won’t give up his dream for anything. Now I’ve discussed the powerful storytelling found in Deku as a character. If you’re interested in that, check it out here.

The majority of the first season is about challenging the preconceived notions you might have about “hero shows” like this one. Deku spends his time facing adversity, his own mental struggles, and the preparation he needs to take in the power “One For All”. That particular Quirk belongs to All Might. After Deku proves himself, All Might decides to pass it on to Deku.

Note: Not all quirks can be passed on, but “One For All” can be.

Deku dives into his efforts head first at nearly every opportunity. He’s so engrossed in the training it takes to become a hero. You truly do want to root for him. The bond he makes with All Might is really a special thing. It reminds me heavily of Kakashi’s bond with Team 7 of the Naruto series. His role is almost paternal. This bond between them deepens from mentor and protege into teacher and student once Deku is accepted into the “UA” high school.

What makes My Hero Academia  knows exactly what story it’s trying to tell. It doesn’t deviate from the core themes. The series carefully balances humor with emotion, but the story is also tight paced and full of action where it suits. Better yet, the character conflicts hold their own emotional weight.

One of the best characters to facilitate the emotional conflict for Deku is Bakugo. He might come off as your average bully, but there’s more going on under the hood with this character for sure. Even early on, you can see that in spades. While Bakugo’s rage at Deku certainly feels a bit misguided at times, the emotional warfare feels realistic to the universe.

Yet, what would an action series be without stellar fights?

Animation

The animation won’t do you wrong. The combat feels weighty, the animation itself is very slick during the fights. The characters don’t “float” where there shouldn’t be any floating to their movements. All of the Quirks suit the characters well, even if we don’t fully understand the complete magnitude of these powers. Bakugo’s explosions feel bombastic. Todoroki’s ice powers feel layered and amazing.

Combat choreography isn’t something a screen shot can adequately depict. This is a series you have to watch to fully appreciate. I should call it raw magnitude. Well and truly, the fights are raw magnitude for a lack of a better description.

The attention paid to the tiny details really shows how much care the animators put into this series.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this is a solid first season to a pretty good shounen anime over all. In my opinion, it’s also one of the best seasons because of how clean and concise it is.

There are so many anime in this genre that feel clunky or overdone. I promise you, My Hero Academia comes out of the gate strong. It doesn’t feel clunky in the slightest. Shounen anime often feel like a dime a dozen, but My Hero Academia feels like more than that.

The first season is only 13 episodes long, you could binge watch the first season in a single weekend with time to spare. The ending is wonderful too, paving the way for more great seasons down the line.

With the strong introduction of the main cast, and a few decent villains like Shigaraki, there’s a lot to like here. I often return to this first season for the tight writing, punchy characterizations, and compelling storytelling. If you haven’t seen this series, you probably should.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Review: A Little Snow Fairy Sugar

Hey all, this is Kernook here. Today we’re going to talk about a series that’s gentle and easy to watch. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows either. Sometimes this anime is a little bitter-sweet and contemplative above all else. While it touches on the subject of loss, you’ll find the themes to be easily digestible and never too dark.

Today I’m talking about A Little Snow Fairy Sugar. Please don’t forget to follow this blog and out social media for more content.

Before I dive into the series, let’s talk about the usual technicalities. As of right now the series can be hard to find. You can rent or buy it digitally on Amazon Prime. I’m not sure if you can locate it anywhere else. I still have my old DVD copies so that’s how I watch the show.

Speaking of that, the series was originally released on DVD in North America by Geneon Entertainment.  Sentai Filmworks partook the license later on. The animation was done by J.C. Staff, for better and for worse. For the time it was pretty decent, average at the very least. That said, it hasn’t aged well.

Thankfully, the character designs by Koge-Donbo save this problem. The characters are wonderful. Let’s dive into the meat of the show properly.

This is a short 24 episode series, centering around the main protagonist, Saga. She’s an interesting girl. She likes to have everything organized to perfection. To some degree her this nearly obsessive character flaw stems from hardship, but I’ll get to that later. Saga lives with her grandmother in Muhlenberg, Germany.

Side note: As far as I can tell, this is a fictional place. It isn’t real. Although interestingly enough, there was actually a man by the name of Frederick Muhlenberg. If what the urban legend says is true, then that is the guy who prevented German from becoming an official language of the United States. This is the sort of thing you find while researching for blog posts, I swear. Tangential learning, everyone! Anyway, I digress.

At the time the series begins, Saga is 11 years old. She goes to school and keeps a part-time job at the “Little Me” coffee shop. As a hobby she visits the local music store to practice playing her late mother’s piano.

As you can see, Saga’s life is entirely ordinary with nothing out of place. One day during a rain storm, Saga encounters Sugar, an apprentice Season Fairy. As you can guess, everything neat and orderly in Saga’s life goes completely askew as soon as she meets Sugar.

The seasons and weather such as snow, wind, rain and the sun are controlled by these little creatures. Also as expected, we find out that these little buggers are entirely invisible to humans. Saga can see Sugar. That is the crux of the show. The next thing Saga knows, she’s befriended the adorable little pain-in-the-butt. The general story goes like this…

In order for Sugar to become a full-fledged Season Fairy, as an apprentice she must first journey to the human world. These little fairies have a lot to learn during training. Naturally this causes problems for Saga as she tries to keep the little snow fairy out of trouble. 

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is full of simple everyday adventures, nothing more, nothing less. All in all, this show is light and airy. It’s a breath of fresh air, really… however there’s a few sad little elements too. Beneath the overtones of gentleness and spunky characters, the series has a very clear and honest tone.

You see, ultimately this is a story about life and loss. Growing up can be awkward and painful. This show speaks to that in a very real way. Really, the themes are about letting go of the past. The sincere friends and beloved family that we inevitably and tragically lose can’t put our lives at a standstill. We don’t get the time back after those emotional ties are gone, but we have to move on.

In this way, you might say A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is very similar to Sweetness and Lightning.

Although the series never beats you over the head with this concept, it is a pervasive theme. A Little Snow Fairy Sugar heavily and constantly implies that Saga can see Sugar because of her own childhood traumas. This is concept lampshades further due to the memory of Saga’s deceased mother.

Saga’s constant recollections of the woman speaks volumes. In some facets this is her journey of personal catharsis after grief.

Saga needs to learn to move on with her life. The show makes it clear. Every week, she visits her mother’s old piano. To her, this is the replacement for a gravestone. As I said above, she is an obsessive type character. Her routine visits are deeply tied to her emotionally.

There comes a time when Sugar finally discovers what she needs to know. That’s it, her training is done. She can go back home, if she only wanted to. She doesn’t want to return to the fairy realm. If she did that, it would mean leaving Saga behind forever.

This is a wonderful series, and it certainly is worth your time. The series is certainly aimed at a slightly younger audience. Adults may not get the same sort of benefit or enjoyment from the series. A middling or younger teenager would likely benefit best. That being said, the series is kid friendly and that makes for wonderful family viewing.

If you’re an adult anime fan that requires anime appropriate for small children around, this is reasonable viewing. Honestly, if you like these kinds of stories, the series will probably be a solid choice for you regardless of age.

Importantly though, it won’t offend the sensibilities of small children and it won’t be so absolutely annoying that older kids flat out hate it. It’s certainly aimed at girls more than boys. That being said, I know a lot of boys who do like it, so don’t let that stop you.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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The Simpsons Season 1 Retrospective Review

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I think of influential television shows, The Simpsons comes to my mind instantaneously. I wanted to discuss the first season, so that’s what I’m going to do.

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Honestly, I doubt that The Simpsons even needs an introduction at this point. It’s hard not to know of this series. With fifteen separate dubs and nearly thirty subs, The Simpsons stands right up there with some of the most prolific shows of our modern age. When it comes to worldwide appeal in the animation space, this series is something of an enigma.

Plenty of cartoons are, sure enough, but The Simpsons wasn’t exactly intended for children and it sits within an odd middle ground. It isn’t a Japanese anime, it’s not your average American cartoon, either.

Rather I should say that it didn’t used to be an average one. Back in the day, the series wasn’t directed at family friendly viewing. It just wasn’t so egregious that you need to slam the television off the moment a small child walked into the room. It’s no Family Guy or South Park in that way. It just wasn’t intended for children and appeared on a network and time slot that children wouldn’t gravitate towards.

The Simpsons got a start on the Tracy Ullman Show back in 1989, when the Fox Network wanted to appeal to young adults in the late teens and early twenties. My memories don’t actually include that, it’s just hard to be a Simpsons fan and not know that crucial little detail. I was also born in 1989. As you can probably guess my earliest memories of the show happened during my early childhood in the 90’s.

I remember The Simpsons as its own separate series. I grew up with it because my family watched it, thus I did too. I’d suspect many of you out there are the same as me.

In 1990, it began airing regularly as its own separate television show. The first season is about as messy as you can get. It was a new thing back then. Animation of the era, particularly american cartoons were sometimes questionable at best in terms of art style and quality. The Simpsons as a show wasn’t really any different.

Matt Groening, the cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons deserves his own separate blog post, but the key thing to note is that he wanted to put a lampshade on what a real american family was at the time. With his finger on the pulse he managed to do just that.

I don’t think any Simpsons fan would disagree that season one has a strange feel to it. It’s both a classic to television history, just as it is a complete and total mess by today’s standards. As a series in its infancy though, it was very well-liked and highly regarded. The distinctive feel of the early concepts we know and love today were just beginning.

These days if you were to look at the first season without context, it would be like walking into a bizarre world.

Waylon Smithers doesn’t look like this anymore. He’s yellow, like a large majority of The Simpson cast. I think it just goes to show how much the series was still in its infancy.

It’s funny, because when a lot of fans are “purists” about something, they’re usually referencing the earliest seasons. However, when it comes to fan of The Simpsons the idea of a “purist” usually refers to slightly later seasons, when characters began to feel fleshed out and the animation quality became stable.

Generally speaking, you either love or hate The Simpsons in the first season, or you just don’t remember the first season at all. Really though, I just can’t fault anyone for that. This animated series had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way to being the cultural icon as we know it today.

High Concept, Low Execution

The Simpsons was closer to a sitcom rather than it was a children’s cartoon, and that was by design. The colors were chosen to be bright and catch the attention of channel surfers, but despite the brightly colored characters, this was never meant to be for kids.

The characters themselves were generally down to earth when they needed to be, however the animation was experimental and occasionally that resulted in a total mess. While real character focused stories often took center stage, the scenes with a lot of characters on screen at once made for something of an eyesore.

If you look closely at almost every crowd shot within season one, you’re going to find a goofy little thing or two. It’s good for a small chuckle, I’ll give it that. This particular moment of unintentional hilarity comes from the episode Homer’s Odyssey. If you look carefully, you’ll see that it looks like two guys are either joined at the skull or they’ve freakishly snapped their necks.

I’m not sure if the creators intended it that way, or if it was just an accident. Either way, the first season of the Simpsons is absolutely bursting with moments like this. This is honestly one of my favorite ones to point to because it’s just so goofy that I easily remember it.

However, it wasn’t the animation that kept us viewers glued to our seats. The show almost always had something interesting to say. You see the thing is, The Simpsons portrayed a typical American family. At the time shows didn’t like to display families that were dysfunctional at best and absolutely downright awful at worst. The Simpsons refused to shy away from dysfunction. In fact, nine times out of ten, real and direct family dysfunction was the centerpiece.

The usual concentric focus of family related sitcoms get put under a looking glass where temptation and personal character failings demand attention too. While Homer and Marge do have a loving relationship, and arguably a more stable one, the failings of the romance still shows through plainly.

They can discuss marital issues, such as Homer going to a stag party and make notes of objectifying women with an earnest bent. The theme of the episode aside, in Homer’s Night Out the series still maintains the close family bonds that the family struggles to keep close at hand. The party itself is one thing. However the deeper theme is about how this impacts Bart’s view of women and Homer’s ability as a father to correct that.

Every episode is handled with similar attention paid to family drama and muddling their way through life. The same holds true for all the characters, although here in the first season we get more Homer or Bart related stories than anything else. They monopolize half of the episodes to stories centered around at least one of them.

Since the first season is only 13 episodes long, that’s a pretty large monopoly of screen time for these two characters. Although, I have to admit, that was probably a solid decision. These two characters certainly add a larger measure of flair to the family dysfunction.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other family characters still get a large portion of screen time too within these focused stories. There’s a lot to be said about Lisa and Marge getting great early character development because of the stories that were told.

There’s a real sort of emotional focus upon the actions these characters take, and what impact it has on the family unit. We can have moments of Bart and Lisa arguing about who loves their father more, only to then have the joke subverting our expectations.

That’s not to say every episode hits it out of the park, or even manages to flawlessly get its point across. Many times, The Simpsons isn’t able to do that. What it can and does do flawlessly is leave the viewer with a loose ethos of what the series tried to represent. It asks you to either take it or leave it, and it doesn’t particularly care what you do with it.

The show is full of parody and satire culture, along with hot button issues of the era. You didn’t have to like the show back then, you just had to take notice of it. The series wasn’t trying to be a mindless popcorn viewing for the masses. Even though you could do that and enjoy the show just fine as it was, The Simpsons refused to be ignored either.

It gracelessly showcased the often questionable cultural identity of the white American family when “proper” sitcoms of the day hesitated to do strictly that. Homer was not the perfect father figure or husband, Marge while supportive was often short sighted, and the children were merely that; children. Bart was the wayward hell-raiser, and Lisa was the intelligent, if mischievous little artist. Maggie was the baby back then, clearly a very smart one, but she hadn’t come into her own as a character just yet.

There was a lot to unpack if you cared to, and many people did. The series was relatable, and that meant a lot.

Does The Simpsons Season 1 Hold Up?

Yes… surprisingly so, actually.

The Simpsons still continues on today, even though many fans often think the series has been milked for all it can be worth at this point. It lives on anyway. Perhaps it is a bit geriatric these days, lacking the more pin-point accurate depiction of what a microcosm of America should look like. However, you can look back on the first season of The Simpsons and find a relevancy there that hasn’t quite gone away.

Yeah, it looks dated, sure it does. The animation is a bit goofy looking sometimes. The series is over thirty years old, give it a little bit of slack there. It might not be perfect, in fact I’d say the show is very flawed. In a way though, that was the point.

The Simpsons should feel flawed. It should feel off kilter and askew while still feeling entirely relatable, and that’s exactly how season one feels even to this very day. Be it school yard woes and the topic of bullying, or martial problems and the struggles of faithfulness, there’s downright honesty to be found here.

It is satire, meaning it’s never too dark, or too gritty. There’s a humor and a light to be had at the end of the darkest moments. However that darkness pervades a little too. At the end of the day, the series has a lot of heart and soul embedded deep within every episode of this first season.

It can be funny and it can be dumb on occasion. No matter what though, it will always be astoundingly honest with you, the viewer. The Simpsons has a first season that doesn’t quite know what it is, and its beginnings are as humble as they are unsteady… but, well… we wouldn’t have so many seasons of the show, if it hadn’t started someplace.

If the series is a cash cow still to this day, then we only have these early seasons to thank for it, this first one most of all. That start really isn’t half bad even nowadays, either.

It truly is worth the watch. Even if you’ve already seen it, go back to the very start and get yourself a good dose of nostalgia. Enjoying the good old days every now and then really isn’t as much of a sin as we all make it out to be.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Game Review: The Static Speaks My Name

Warning: The game I’m reviewing today is called “The Static Speaks My Name”. This game contains mature themes.
Mature Content: This game deals with the concept of suicide… it’s not too overly dark or graphic, but the theme is looming and present.
Kern’s Disclaimer: This is not just a typical little indie title, it has a narrative that needs to be handled with care and respect. Know that going into it. One more time for the people in the back. This game is NOT for young or impressionable gamers. If you have delicate sensibilities regarding the content warnings above, maybe just don’t read this review or play this game. I won’t be held responsible if it triggers the absolute crap out of you.

I enjoy indie content, particularly when it pushes the conventional narrative limitations of media in an interesting way. The game I’m reviewing today does strictly that. Before I begin my review though, I do hope you didn’t disregard my content warning above. If you did, scroll back up and read it first.

The thing that sets this game in a different category from other indie horror titles, is that this game is less “terrifying” and more along the lines of “tragically unsettling”. I wouldn’t call it a horror game per say, because I don’t find it scary in the traditional sense, nor unnerving in the general one. Rather, this game dives deep into the realm of psychological horror in ways I rarely ever see.

It’s not scary, it’s chilling. Thematically speaking, “The Static Speaks My Name” is a short title, but far from a sweet little package. The game is more of a “narrative experience” than a game itself. Actually, I’d hesitate to call it a game because there is a clearly a narrative to be found here, but there’s not a whole lot of “gameplay”. The price is right though. As of writing this blog it is completely free on steam, and the time investment to complete the game is minimal.

The fact that it will take most people about ten minutes to to complete it says enough on its own. Honestly, you can beat in it half that time if you really wanted to rush it. Now, while some people may find the length lacking, the content isn’t. What you’re given in that short time isn’t anything to scoff at.

When you begin the game, a brief prologue begins. Surrounded by a dark space, you’ll see something in the distance and you’ll have to walk closer to it. As you do, you’re given three things. A name, an age, and a cause of death. When you get close enough to what is basically that floating cloud in the middle of a dark expanse, you enter into the body of a man, and you live out is last moments alive.

The beeping alarm drags the man from slumber and he awakens to a home that’s just a little strange. Everything seems just a little out of place and just slightly out-of-sorts.

As a first-person game, you play as a man named Jacob Ernholtz. As a player, you soon put the pieces together to find out more about this man, and his final decision. To be clear though, the game isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s not all awfulness caked in pure and unbridled cynicism. If it was, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

Actually, “The Static Speaks My Name” does something else. It attempts to tell a story that has little to do with the event that ended this man’s life, and more to do with his final moments that preceded it. This game is not an analysis nor a deconstruction of the prevailing topic at hand. It’s not even about the physiological nor social conditions at play when ones goes about making such a choice.

Rather the game carries a heavy undertone with the concepts of obsession more than taking one’s own life. As though the pictures hanging upon the wall act as an all consuming focus that Jacob Ernholtz couldn’t possibly escape a fascination with. He isn’t a good man in the slightest, which only further makes it hard to relate with him on any level. I’d say that that fact alone is what makes it a horror title. It isn’t the inevitable end that makes the game so unnerving to me, it’s the character you play as, and just how disturbed he obviously is.

Just take a look at the image below as a hint to just how obsessed he is with that one painting and the painter behind it. I assume you could extrapolate all kinds of meanings from this if you really cared to, but as for me, I don’t care to try at all… really, just playing as the guy is enough for me to be unsettled about just what in the hell could have been going on in his brain.

As for gameplay, it’s just a game about slowly twisting mundane moments in this one man’s life. Cleaning the microwave, admiring his collection of paintings among the wall, or eating his pet shrimp. Simple details, really. However, it soon becomes clear that this is the point of the game, the simplicity beyond horrific spectacle, which the game cares very little for. it doesn’t glamorize it’s core themes, but rather, it seems to spit upon the idea that typical cliche’s about depression needs to be continued on in ways we would normally expect.

They’re tired, they’re dusty, they’re old and we don’t need them. The game seems to say this, to exemplify that notion in every act, The game doesn’t spell things out for you concisely, there is no neat or tidy conclusion, and you won’t be likely to find yourself re-playing the game more than once to pick to pieces every little detail.

Once is enough, and the slow spiral of madness seemingly induced by paintings upon the walls is truly macabre in notion, but not quite in a way that inspires empathy or compassion… especially after you notice just what else this man keeps in his house.

The fact of the matter is, what makes this game notable, is that it inspires a gambit of emotions. There’s dark humor mixed with tragedy and although it is sad, dark and pretty disturbing, I find that it is a fitting end to this short game.

Now, onto the “static” concept and the idea of seeing other “static deaths”. If you look at the reviews, or commentators on Steam you see that notion brought up often enough in their reviews section. Here’s the thing, I’m glad we only have one story. One glimpse, one looking-glass, and that’s all. I don’t want more than this, and I’m glad that we don’t get more than that.

The reason for this is because while I do think that perhaps more “statics” would have been interesting, I believe it would have made the game rather unpalatable in the long run. There’s only so much of this grittiness that anyone can take, and there comes a time when a compelling point to explore these concepts crosses a line too far.

If this game had been any longer, if it had explored too many more deaths or the disturbing minds behind them, it wouldn’t have just crossed the line for me. In fact, it would have trampled all over it and left a big steaming pile of dung in its wake. The solo developer, Jesse Barksdale, was wise not to take this narrative, or this game that far.

So, I guess the final question is, do I think you should play this game? All in all, if you can handle these sorts of themes, it might be worth your time to play it. Keyword being might. Once again, it’s short and it’s free. Those are low barriers to entry, so long as you can swallow down the core themes, which is the much larger, prevailing question. I can’t answer that, and to me that remains the ultimate conflict.

I think “The Static Speaks My Name” is an interesting narrative experience. However, I don’t think most people would “enjoy” playing as as such a disturbed man who eats his pet shrimp and has a nasty little propensity to obsess about a single painting. Honestly, give it a try if you want to take a dive down into that kind of character. If you have no interest in that, then this game is not for you… keep away from it.

This has been Kernook from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time. Don’t forget to check out our other great content.

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